Kerry's latest cease-fire plan: What was he thinking?

Kerry isn’t anti-Israeli; on the contrary, he's a true friend to Israel. But his conduct in recent days over the Gaza cease-fire raises serious doubts over his judgment and perception of regional events.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry boards his plane in Paris, as he returns to Washington, Saturday
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry boards his plane in Paris, as he returns to Washington, Saturday, July 26, 2014, following ef... / Photo by AP
By Barak Ravid
Published 00:14 27.07.14

The press conference U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry convened together with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry was one of Kerry's most embarrassing incidents since taking office. And there were quite a few in the last year and a half.

A few hours before the press conference began, the Israeli security cabinet ministers unanimously rejected Kerry's cease-fire plan draft. Kerry, as is his wont, seemed and sounded as if he came from a parallel universe. He claimed to have never presented Israel with a formal offer for a cease-fire, slammed the Israeli media's "mischievous reports" and promised that Netanyahu's office will issue a clarification.

As if that wasn't enough, Kerry claimed he made significant progress in the cease-fire talks and said, deadpan, that the disagreements with Israel are purely on matters of terminology. Reality, of course, was completely different. If anything happened on Friday it was another deep crisis in trust between Israeli senior cabinet members and the American secretary of state.

The draft Kerry passed to Israel on Friday shocked the cabinet ministers not only because it was the opposite of what Kerry told them less than 24 hours earlier, but mostly because it might as well have been penned by Khaled Meshal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.

The document recognized Hamas' position in the Gaza Strip, promised the organization billions in donation funds and demanded no dismantling of rockets, tunnels or other heavy weaponry at Hamas' disposal. The document placed Israel and Hamas on the same level, as if the first is not a primary U.S. ally and as if the second isn't a terror group which overtook part of the Palestinian Authority in a military coup and fired thousands of rockets at Israel.

On Saturday, the State Department distributed photos of Kerry's meeting with Qatar and Turkey's foreign ministers in Paris. The three appear jovial and happy-go-lucky. Other photographs show Kerry carousing romantically with the Turkish foreign minister in the pastoral grounds of the U.S. ambassador's home in Paris, as if the Turkish official's prime minister didn't just say a few days ago that Israel is 10 times worse than Hitler.

The secretary of state's draft empowered the most radical and problematic elements in the region – Qatar, Turkey, and Hamas – and was a slap on the face to the rapidly forming camp of Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, who have many shared interests. What Kerry's draft spells for the internal Palestinian political arena is even direr: It crowns Hamas and issues Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a death warrant.

It's not clear what Kerry was thinking when he presented this draft. It's unclear what he had in mind when he convened the Paris summit. It can only be seen as surreal. Along with foreign ministers from Europe's major nations Kerry greeted with regal honors Hamas' Qatari and Turkish patrons, ignoring what Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority might have had to say.

Kerry isn’t anti-Israeli; on the contrary, he's a true friend to Israel. But his conduct in recent days over the Gaza cease-fire raises serious doubts over his judgment and perception of regional events. It's as if he isn't the foreign minister of the world's most powerful nation, but an alien, who just disembarked his spaceship in the Mideast. For a few moments Friday one could not avoid recalling the things Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said about Kerry, and admit that despite the fact that it wasn't appropriate, he may have had a point.

If Kerry did anything on Friday it was to thwart the possibility of reaching a cease-fire in Gaza. Instead of promoting a cease-fire, Kerry pushed it away. If this failed diplomatic attempt leads Israel to escalate its operation in Gaza, the American secretary of state will be one of those responsible for every additional drop of blood that is spilled.


comments

Add Comment

Thank you

Your talkback has been submitted successfully.
If selected for publication, it will appear as soon as possible on Haaretz.com.

please wait...

  • 11.
    Your Last Friend in the World
    Really getting tired of Israel insulting the United States: "How would you feel if terrorists attacked your country!?!?" What short memories the Israelis seem to have regarding their only friend in the world. What do they think we've been doing for the last 13 years? I guarantee more Americans have died during this period as a result of either direct terrorist attacks (9/11) or indirectly as a result of the wars that followed than have Israelis. And how do they respond to a rational US ceasefire proposal to end this latest Children's Crusade of internecine, bloody nonsense? That potato-faced sociopath Netanyahu has one of his ministers call our Secretary of State a terrorist. How offensive of the Israelis to dare question America's understanding of terrorism, for we have suffered plenty for over a decade. We need no reminders from anyone regarding the threat posed by Islamic fanatics. I REALLY wish more US journalists and politicians alike would call-out the Israeli government for so callously insulting the American people.
  • 10.
    Why don't you point the finger at the real culprit - Netayahu. Remember that all of this started from the kidnapping of the three Jewish
    teens. Netanyahu knew that they had been murdered from the overheard cellphone comments made by the murderers, but spend the next two weeks arresting Hammas members and blaming the PA and Hammas. At the funeral of the teens, he called for vengeance. - Well vengeance is what he got in the murder of the Palestinian teen and however other Palestinisans have been beaten and/or murdered. Netanyahu played it to the hilt and got the war with Hammas. So don't blame Kerry for Netanyahu's deeds. Also, how would you like to live under occupation for 47 years. Maybe Kerry decided that it was time to end it once and for all.
  • Huh?
    Let's see now. Hamas terrorists kidnap and murder some Israeli teenagers and you blame... Netanyahu??? "how would you like to live under occupation for 47 years.[sic]". How would you like to be attacked by combined Arab armies for most of the past century? Or be shelled and bombed at work, at home, and at play by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza for a decade? How did "Observer" fail to observe all of this?
  • 9.
    With friends like Kerry, Israel needs no enemies.
  • 8.
    Secretary Kerry
    I'm sorrry you had not realised Kerry is an idiot.
  • 7.
    What is Israel thinking
    What is surreal is the world's involvement in the never ending crisis and Israel's typical response. I get it, having rockets fired into your country is nothing anyone should have to put up with but current action taking place will ensure the next war is 2x as bad, the next 4x. Israel is inflaming radicals that feed on Muslim hate for Israel to grow their ranks. Israel has Iron Dome, expand on it and let them fire away. Day after day after day let them fire away and take it. If they see their missiles are not effective they will stop or a case beyond a shadow of a doubt can be made for action of the type that is occurring now. Israeli stance of military action has never fixed tensions in the area, it only makes them worse. You're smarter then that.
  • Thinking
    Muslims have hated Jews long before Israel existed. Mohammed, feeling threatened by the existing Jewish monotheism (2000 years old by that time), waged a Jihad against Jews who refused to acknowledge him as the prophet and ended up slaughtering many, forcibly converting others, and permanently expelling the rest on pain of death. The only issue for the current crop of Jew haters is that we refuse to be victims any longer. We will fight all those who attack us and leave fixing tensions to the spring manufacturers.
  • 6.
    Kerry
    Kerry/Obama is no friend of Israel. They are great friends with Qatar. Wake up Israel, before its too late. Gain financial independence and military independence.
  • 5.
    keery is a left wing zealot, thats all this is...and we all know lefties dont get the reality of islamic extremism and the need to fight
  • 4.
    Kerry
    Kerry should have got out of politics a long time ago and went into the catsup business even then he would have problems ,why he was chosen for this job remains a mystery he is a dunce to put it humanely.
  • 3.
    Don't like what Kerry is doing eh?
    Which Israeli leader has the courage to be fair and say that the Palestinians deserve their rights?
  • 2.
    Wow. Barak Ravid slams Kerry. Must be a first for Haaretz.
    You mean he really is messianic and delusional like our defense minister said earlier? That is quite an admission...
  • 1.
    Barbarelli
    Stop bashing Mr. Kerry. He has integrity and a sense of proportionality and fairness. Israeli is committing war crimes--what is he supposed to do? There's a lot of Israelis who insult Kerry and yet the U.S. is funding Israel more than any other country on Earth. Stop playing politics; focus on the Israel brutality and incompetence in resolving the Palestinian/Israel issues. What a waste of a article.